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Old 04-27-2010, 04:09 PM   #1
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Old Electrical Box - Any Clues?


I'm looking at an older house, Sears model from the 50's/60's and I'm trying to determine how many amps the electrical system supports. The electrical box is relatively small, and doesn't seem to have much info on it.

Picture attached.

The numbers on each switch are hard to see in the photo. They are as follows:
Top Row: 15, 15, 15, 15
Bottom Row: 20, 20, 30, 30, 15

The only other thing I know about the system is that there's an electric dryer in the basement with what seems to be a dedicated electrical line to it.

Has anyone seen anything like this? What can you tell me about it?
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:12 PM   #2
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I can tell you it is a Federal Pacific panel.

To determine the size of the service you would need to find the size of the service cable or the conductor size. I would suspect a 100 maximum.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:28 PM   #3
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Thanks! Any recommendations on how to find/determine that? Perhaps I should bring in an electrician to assess the system in person, but right now I'm just trying to gauge an overview of the situation.

Also, I'm reading that Federal Pacific panels are extremely dangerous. is this so?
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:35 PM   #4
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You might be able to see the markings on the outside of the cable, if they have not worn off or are not facing the house. You could also possibly compare the wire size vs a size you already know. You need to look at the size of the conductor itself, not the insulation. Insulation size and types have changed.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:36 PM   #5
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This is a very wild guess but I bet it may be 60. The main should tell you, if there's one somewhere.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:55 PM   #6
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Measure the incoming conductor circumference by wrapping a string around it and mark where the string overlaps.
Assuming this cross section is circular, dividing this length by 3.14 gives you the diameter, then use the AWG on Wiki to read gauge number.
Of course, stand on a dry wood board, remove all jewelry and be very careful.

Another way is to cut a slot in shoe-box cardboard of such a width that it just fits over the conductor.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-27-2010 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:59 PM   #7
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Any clues on identifying the main?
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
Measure the incoming conductor circumference by wrapping a string around it and mark where the string overlaps.
Assuming this cross section is circular, dividing this length by 3.14 gives you the diameter, then use the AWG on Wiki to read gauge number.
Of course, stand on a dry wood board, remove all jewelry and be very careful.

Another way is to cut a notch in cardboard of such a width that it just fits over the conductor.
Not only is this un-necessarily complicated, it would also involve measuring or working around a live conductor. Also the "precautions" are not what you would need to satisfy prudent safety precautions, let alone what OSHA would require.

To the Op, there is no main in this panel.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:18 PM   #9
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The string thing could be safely done with the neutral. First check the sleeve of the cable though as it should actually saw the awg on it.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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If the neutral were braided like in a SE type cable the dimension would vary based on if or how tightly it was twisted. I would not consider this reliable either. Some neutrals are also downsized vs the hot conductors.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:33 PM   #11
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Getting to the moon was easier than measuring this wire.

And, how can that be?

Maybe Dr. Berne [deceased] provides a clue
http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

You mean this OSHA?

"One of these commitments is a quick reversal of what the Obama campaign and its union supporters claimed was eight years of the Bush administration OSHA "selling out to big business" to the detriment of worker safety and health, allegedly accomplished through an agenda of lax enforcement, cozy partnerships and cessation of any meaningful standards-setting activities."

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Old 04-27-2010, 09:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
You mean this OSHA?

"One of these commitments is a quick reversal of what the Obama campaign and its union supporters claimed was eight years of the Bush administration OSHA "selling out to big business" to the detriment of worker safety and health, allegedly accomplished through an agenda of lax enforcement, cozy partnerships and cessation of any meaningful standards-setting activities."
Whether they have changed their enforcement policies is irregardless of the need to follow safe work practices. Kind of like speeding always being illegal, whether you get caught or not. Safe work practices need to be followed. Standing on a wooden board doesn't cut it.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:44 PM   #13
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I've found out that it's a 60 AMP service. However, 30 AMPs are directed to a dedicated line to the basement for the washer and dryer, and the other 30 support the rest of the house (k, dr, 2lr, 4br, 3bth). I'm worried that we (family of four) are going to put a much higher demand on the system than the previous occupant (single, elderly woman) and I'm not sure if I should worry about what could happen as a result...especially if this is a Federal Pacific panel and they're as bad as I've read they are.

How much risk am I putting myself in by moving into this house with the electrical system as is?
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:55 PM   #14
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If it is Fed Pacific I'd have it ripped out & replaced

What is there in the house for electric ?
AC, stove, heat HW ??
What do you anticipate having/using

I need more then 60a for my Christmas display
Rewiring/upgrading a house can be very expensive



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Old 04-28-2010, 09:13 PM   #15
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everyone knows standing on a board is not safe, needs to be an empty drywall bucket
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